EdTech 532

Edtech 532: Educational Games and Simuations

Below is the link to the syllabus for Edtech 532: Educational Games and Simulations. It was a class which I took from Dr. David Gibson and Chris Haskell. I have also included the blog entries that we had to keep from that class.

Syllabus Edtech 532:

Wednesday, Janaury 7, 2010
Initial Thoughts and Concerns About Game Based Learning

I begin by telling a short story of how I ended up in this class. I took a year off of my studies and education to pursue another career. When I came back to education I decided to “get my feet wet” in the new grade that I would be teaching before I decided to enroll in any class. By the time I decided to register for a class there were only a few choices. The classes that I had to choose from all included time spent in Second Life. I had no idea what that was. So I decided to take the class that I thought would be the least painful. I am beginning to change my opinion.

My initial reaction to Game Based Learning was the thought of my brother spending countless hours playing his DS, PS3, Wii and whatever other ridiculous time waster he could find. A grown man playing video games! Unbelievable! The only games that I ever played were sport games. And those times were few and far between. How could playing games educate a person or support a teacher in their classroom. What skills could come out of clicking, unlocking, or shooting something. The readings and the time that I have spend in Second Life have opened up my mind significantly.

There maybe more to it than I thought when I start to dig a little deeper. Games are full of higher order thinking skills (constructing, designing, judging). Games are very motivational; Donald Norman stated that “students learn best when they are motivated, when they care” (Norman 2004, p. 205). It is my opinion that students learn best when they are having fun and/or enjoying what they are doing. They don’t even realize that they are learning.

My main concern about game based learning is how games will help students achieve provincial set goals, outcomes, and indicators. Most games, from the knowledge that I currently have, will not be tailored to curriculum. Second, if they could be, who is going to pay for it? There are still so many stigmas surrounding gaming that it will take some time to show their worth. That is to say, if they are worthwhile. There does not seem to be sufficient data suggesting that gaming will improve student learning.

I know that I am becoming more interested in this topic as early as it is into our Ed Tech 532 class. I have also intrigued several of my colleagues, including our technology consultant. He is very interested in learning more about gaming and simulations and the impact it may have on learning.

Posted by Chris at 8:32 PM
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
What I Would Keep In Mind When Developing or Researching Games
If I was developing or researching a game I would be cognizant of the fine balance of designing it for educational purposes. After reading section two of Clark Aldrich’s Learning By Doing: A Comprehensice Guide to Simulations, Computer Games, and Pedagogy in E-Learning and Other Educational Experiences, I can see that the line between what is a game and what is a simulation is becoming more and more blurred. I would try to ensure that the educational simulation (game and or simulation) was an even balance between the elements of simulations, games, and pedagogy.

The most important pedagogical element would be to have the E.S. (educational simulation)align with an outcome(s) from the cirriculum. I would also be looking toward the end of the learning experience to see what the learner has taken away and make sure it aligns with my outcomes and indicators. It is important for the students to be able to track how they are doing. Ensuring that there is time for learners to be able to reflect on what they have accomplished and be able to slow the activity down or try again would be important. Included in the reflection could also be a place where learners could discuss their successes (ie. high scores). Peer and facilitator coaching would also be an important aspect of the E.S.

I would also want to ensure that the simulation experience is accurate to the real world experience. Through these experiences the students should be able to make discoveries, experiment, and practice activities that would be applicable in the real world. I would also ensure that feedback is received for decisions made.

The game element would need to include situations where learners could remain engaged and motivated in their task. Extending carrots to the learners through creating characters, competitions, solving a puzzle or mastering a cyclical skill. Game elements could be used after a level of competency has been achieved and maybe as a motivational set to begin the E.S.

These would appear to be some lofty goals when developing a E.S. I think that many of these elements are important when you consider the different kinds of learners (particularily in middle years and elementary) involved. It would take an emmence amount of time and money. However, I believe that these elements would be vital to the success of the E.S. and the experience of the learner.

I have become more and more intrigued by simulations and games in education. I am starting to realize how significant they could become in the world of education. Each time I read a one of the weekly reading assignments I continually see the word motivated and engaged. I even began to do some real field work thise week with my grade seven class regarding games. I was also able to experience some simulations on a family holiday to Los Angels. It was amazing and an unbelieveable experience. Now, more than ever, I can see how uselful these technologies could be.

I began talking to my class about the games that they play in their spare time. Many of the students eyes lite up. They were very excited to talk about their favorite games. The only issue that I ran into was when I asked them if they could see games used in a school to learn with. I heard a couple students make comments that were less than enthusiastic. I think that I mentione that I wanted them to think of a game that could integrate some of the things that we learned at school. I think that I would approach this a little different if I brought it up again.

I went on a simutation ride at California Adventure Park next door to Disneyland in Los Angels. The ride simulated a helicopter or plane ride over popular geographic areas or places in California. The sites were amazing. The ride also gave off scents related to what you were flying over (ie. flying over the citrus fields you could smell citrus). There were probably places of California that I saw on that flight that I will never experience in real life. I immediately thought about a simulation like that for the province where I live.

I am having some difficulty completely understanding some of the ways in which games and simulations are characterized. I am also having a difficult time understanding what the learning theories are in regards to games.

There are still many things that I am not sure of during this class. I am not a gamer and I am not familiar with many of the games that are mentioned in our readings and during our class discussions. I am not sure that I completely understand what entails a simulation. I think that my final project needs to be a game concept. I have been putting a lot of thought into this and I am drawing a blank. I have only ever enjoyed playing sport video games. This is a large mountain for me to climb. I am hopeful that many of my concerns will be addressed before to long.

Posted by Chris at 6:40 PM
My Game
Sunday, March 14, 2010

I have been putting a lot of thought into the type of game that I would like to design. I would like to design a game that could be used in my classroom. This year I am teaching grade seven. I have a strong interest in Social Studies. This has lead me to the idea of creating a game that is based on the grade seven social studies curriculum. The theme of the grade seven social studies curriculum is Pacific Rim and Circumpolar countries. Our curriculum goals include: interdependence, dynamic relations of people and land, power and authority, and resources and wealth.

I am not entirely sure yet what my game will look like. I am really excited to get some feedback from my classmates. I think that they can give me some interesting ideas. I am waiting for Dr. Gibson to create a link in Blackboard to post ideas and receive feedback. I am not a gamer. I need some ideas from some people who are. I have began to talk to my grade seven class about what they would like to see in this game. They have not given me much to go on yet. They would really like to see a first shooter game. They would also like to see countries be able to go to war.

I have thought that I would like each student to be assigned a country from the region that we focus on in grade seven social studies. There are thrity countries that we focus on. I would like to develope a game where students have control of many aspects of their country. They need to be able to earn points of some kind. I have started thinking about having them earn money for their country by completing tasks or by answering questions. I am leaning towards the idea that the students will have to post ideas to a blog. The teacher, will have to read their blogs to and determine what amount of money they should recieve for their answers. This sounds kind of lame to me. I would like to see the students be able to create their country according to what they think they want their country to look like. I was also thinking about giving them control of a country that is already established. They could make changes to the country. They need a way to earn he ability to change their country and make it better according to their ideals and thoughts.

As you can see, I need some help. I have a theme to work with. I know the content and curriculum well. I need help creating a game that will have the students have fun, challenge them, use higher thinking, and connect to our curriculum. These seem like huge tasks. I am sure that with a little help and some ideas I will be able to create the concept of a game that will be engaging, relevant to content, and challenging to students of most ability levels.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010
How will games help my students accomplish the outcomes

There are several ways to determine that my students learned by playing my game. My game will be based on the outcomes from the grade seven social studies here in Saskatchewan, Canada. My game will allow students to journey through Pacific Rim and Circumpolar countries. During their trek they will be able to learn about the culture, geography, politics, resources, and interdependency. The game will engage students while testing them formatively throughout their experience.

The students will experience enriching journeys. They will tour countries and earn rewards based on the information and skills they learn. These rewards will allow them to construct their own country. The points that they earn will stem from quizzes, performance tests, and skills acquired.

The engaging part of the game will apparent immediately. Middle years students do not hide their feelings. I will know if they enjoy it as well because I would have a tracker on the game which would allow me to see how often the students are spending playing the game. They would have the ability to log onto the game and play it at their leisure. If they only play the game when provided time during class, then it is not engaging. I believe that the concept of the game will be engaging because I have asked my grade seven students to provide feedback to me about my concept. They have been making suggestions about the game since I started designing it.

What students learn from this game will be trackable by their scoring on standardized tests and summative assessment provided by the teacher. A teacher, who has taught through other methods than digital game based learning can compare previous achievement marks to the ones that students recieve when playing the game. A teacher could also do some action research with a class that is not participating in the game.

If the students are afforded another way to learn and they enjoy it then my game is a success. I am sure that not all students will enjoy this type of learning. It may not meet their learning style, but it will certainly work for many students. Many students are engaged by video games. This may help them to be motivated to learn. The proof will be in how well they do on the summative assessment and how often they participate in the game.

Posted by Chris at 7:08 PM
Wednesday, April 7, 2010

1. Predesign:
Analyze, Research, Information Gathering, Programming

2. Schematic Design:
Diagram, Mini-Models, Feedback, Design

3. Construction:
Building, Group Permissions, Back Up

He talked about making sure that you think about many things before you start to build your campus. When designing your campus you need to make sure that you have done your homework. Find out what the purpose of your campus is. Who is going to use it and for what purpose? Make sure that the campus is user friendly and that the design is suitable. Will you design it so that it resembles your real life campus or will it be completely different. Designing your campus is revolutionary. It should not be taken lightly. Do not just build a bunch of stuff. You are shaping the future of your school and how you want your school to look in a new world.

Next, he talked about starting to make a model of what you want your campus to look like. You can use several different methods to do that. You are now visually interpretting our school. You may use a blocking diagram or work in second life with a mini scale. Think about things like: how will people get around your campus? Make sure that you ask for and utilize feedback from others. This is a very useful tool in second life. Don’t be afraid of getting rid of things that you don’t use.

Finally, you can start building. When you are building, he says, start a group. Make sure that you set the land so that only your group can access your land. Collaboration is vital in all stages and in particular this one. Make sure that you back up your work. Naming items is important to keep things straight. Your activities should shape your building.

Studio Wikitecture – He also talked about a technology where people can work together to design buildings. People collaborate to design. They use what is called a Wikitree. It is a system of building where people add ideas and then vote on what has been built. People can also leave comments on the creation. This system will let people work on a project from all over the world. People can build using their strengths. This is a very weak summary of what Wikitecture is. In order to learn more about it you could go to the website: studiowikitecture.wordpress.com

Posted by Chris at

6:34 AM
Final Project:


I watched a video today by Jon Brouchoud (RL) Keystone Bouchard (SL). It was on Tweet T.V. He talked about how to design a campus for an education institution. He talked about there being three elements to designing in SL. They are:


Virtual Wolrd Architecture


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